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About John Muir Laws

Naturalist and illustrator John Muir Laws is the author of the Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada and Sierra Birds: A Hiker's Guide. Learn more and find class schedules at johnmuirlaws.com.

Website: http://johnmuirlaws.com


How An Ant Lion Pit Works

June 26, 2018 by John Muir Laws

Ant lions trap their prey in steep pits.

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How to Tell Northern California Hawks Apart

March 30, 2018 by John Muir Laws

Watching distant raptors in dim light? Ignore color and look at values.

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Woodrats Fumigate Their Nests With Bay Leaves to Control Fleas

January 02, 2018 by John Muir Laws

Life is so surprisingly webbed and interconnected.

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Best Spots to Find Migrating Swifts in the Bay Area

September 25, 2017 by John Muir Laws

Every fall thousands of Vaux's swifts migrate south, congregating at dusk in swirling flocks. Here's how to find them when they pass through the Bay Area.

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They Lowered the Level of San Mateo’s Marina Lagoon and Found … These Things

April 04, 2017 by John Muir Laws

Australian tube worms are now widespread in brackish waters of the San Francisco Bay.

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Naturalist’s Notebook: Good Algae Gone Bad

January 01, 2017 by John Muir Laws

Blue-green algae has made some Bay Area ponds dangerous

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An Illustrated Guide to Watching for Humpback Whales

October 14, 2016 by John Muir Laws

What to look for when watching humpbacks.

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Nature Journaling: John Muir Laws and the Art of Slowing Down, Sitting Still, and Paying Attention

April 18, 2016 by John Muir Laws

"As a naturalist, educator, and artist, I have found that my journal is the most necessary tool I carry into the field with me; it is even more necessary than my binoculars."


The Life Cycle of a Caterpillar That Lives in Coyote Scat

October 01, 2014 by John Muir Laws

What is waste for a coyote is a resource for a moth.

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Naturalist’s Notebook: SF Bay Skimmers

January 15, 2014 by John Muir Laws

Black skimmers frequent the waters at the Radio Road ponds in Redwood Shores.


Sailor’s Guide Nature Guide

July 09, 2013 by John Muir Laws

Jack Laws brings us a guide SF Bay wildlife just in time for the America's Cup.

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Turning Blue: Ain’t nothing but a hound’s tongue!

March 29, 2013 by John Muir Laws

John Muir Laws turns his naturalist's eye and paintbrushes to the hound's tongue, one of our early spring bloomers.


Ebony and Ivory

January 30, 2013 by John Muir Laws

A school of fish gets trapped in a slough at ebb tide. Dinnertime for egrets and cormorants! Like this article?There’s ...

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Stilt vs. Avocet

October 16, 2012 by John Muir Laws

Jack Laws lays it out on two of our most charismatic shorebirds: the black-necked stilt and the American avocet. Check ...

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Owl in the Hole

July 01, 2012 by John Muir Laws

Meet the ambassadors of grasslands — among the few birds you’ll meet that live in holes in the ground. As ...

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The Hole Story

April 01, 2012 by John Muir Laws

Mole or gopher? Jack Laws gives us the hole story!

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Rice in Winter: The Pacific Flyway Treat

January 02, 2012 by John Muir Laws

Artist Jack Laws headed out for some great birdwatching among the rice fields of the Sacramento Valley -- and you can too!

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You Are What You Eat

October 01, 2011 by John Muir Laws

The Darwin's emerald moth is a neat trick of evolution: The larvae change color depending on what they eat. And they do it visually -- but them in the dark and they fail to match their host plants.

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Jail Birds

July 01, 2011 by John Muir Laws

Alcatraz ranks right up there with riding the cable cars for most locals, but it turns out the island is a great place for watching birds! Jack hops on the ferry and chronicles the nesting behavior of snowy egrets, pigeon guillemots, Brandt’s cormorants, and western gulls.

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Brake for Nature

April 01, 2011 by John Muir Laws

Jack Laws says we pass we pass fascinating natural hotspots every day on our way hither and yon. Try stopping between here and there now and then--you may discover biodiversity where you least expect it, just like he did at Brisbane Lagoon off Highway 101.

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Good Grebe!

January 01, 2011 by John Muir Laws

Grebes are always fun to watch. Jack Laws helps you tell one from another. If you're especially lucky, you'll see their amazing synchronized courtship dances, where male and female zoom like speedboats across the surface of ponds or lakes.

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Martinez Leaves It to the Beavers

October 01, 2010 by John Muir Laws

The town of Martinez has learned to love its beavers, who've become famous and opened a whole community to the idea that downtown is even better with a bit of biodiversity.

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Bolinas Ridge Discoveries

July 01, 2010 by John Muir Laws

Jack Laws finds new wonders at a familiar haunt.

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Venn and the Art of Hummingbird Identification

January 04, 2010 by John Muir Laws

In spring, not every hummingbird you see in the Bay Area is the same. But they’re all gorgeous. Jack helps us tell the difference between the Allen’s, the rufous, and the Anna’s.

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Hunger Shrike

January 01, 2010 by John Muir Laws

Turns out this little songbird is a little fiercer than most: Loggerhead shrikes eat mostly grasshoppers and other insects in summer, but in winter they go after larger prey, including other birds. But they lack the sharp talons of raptors, so they use thorns or the barbs on barbed wire to finish the job.

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Fire on the Mountain

October 01, 2009 by John Muir Laws

A year after fire burned through two canyons on San Bruno Mountain, artist Jack Laws visited to see how different fire intensities left their mark on the plants of Buckeye and Owl canyons.

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When the Mole Whacks Back

July 01, 2009 by John Muir Laws

Find out how a little worm ties together the lives, and deaths, of several ocean animals, from sea otters to surf scoters to the mole crabs that live in great numbers in the sands of many beaches.

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The Eye of the Beholder

April 01, 2009 by John Muir Laws

Who knew that the kestrel hovering over that vacant field has superpowers?

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January 01, 2009 by John Muir Laws

Take a closer look at a few of our quirkier local spiders.

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Rash Ideas

October 01, 2008 by John Muir Laws

Get a few ideas about poison oak!

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One Good Tern Deserves Another

July 01, 2008 by John Muir Laws

Summer brings a diversity of terns and skimmers to San Francisco Bay.

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Fluke of Nature

April 01, 2008 by John Muir Laws

Intrepid naturalist Jack Laws finds a fluke of nature in six not-so-easy steps.

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The Herd Shot Round the Bay

January 01, 2008 by John Muir Laws

In a few spots in the Bay Area, you can get a glimpse of our state's signature grazer: the tule elk.

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Otter Chaos!

July 01, 2007 by John Muir Laws

The adorable river otters of Rodeo Lagoon, in the Marin Headlands, don't seem so cute and playful when they take down a brown pelican.

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Bay Nature